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Time Out Love New York Awards 2014: Gowanus & Red Hook

A local’s guide to Gowanus & Red Hook. Here are the area’s top local stores, bars, coffee shops, music venues and restaurants.

By Time Out contributors, edited by Vivienne van Vliet
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RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Gowanus, Brooklyn

Time Out readers have spoken, and below are the venues they named their absolute favorite in Gowanus & Red Hook. So the next time you’re in the area and in need of food, drink or retail therapy, make a beeline for these places and you won’t go far wrong.

For more great things to do in Gowanus check out our full Gowanus guide.
For more great things to do in Red Hook check out our full Red Hook guide.

The winners

Warwick Bramble at Fort Defiance, Red Hook, Brooklyn, summer cocktail, fruit cocktail
Warwick Bramble at Fort Defiance, Red Hook, Brooklyn, summer cocktail, fruit cocktail
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

RESTAURANT: Fort Defiance

Bars Cocktail bars Red Hook

The serious take on tippling offered at Fort Defiance is rare in isolated Red Hook, but the cocktails rank among the best in the borough. The Journalist, made with gin and vermouth, is as clean and crisp as a classic Manhattan. A Prescription Julep is an extra-potent mint julep featuring cognac and rye, poured over hand-crushed ice. If you live in the ’hood, this could be your new local spot (it opens at 7am on weekdays, serving coffee and breakfast). The frontier pricing—most drinks are under $10—helps justify the trek for the rest of us.

COFFEE SHOP: Baked

Restaurants Bakeries Red Hook

At this snug bakery and café in Red Hook, kids can load up on homestyle American sweets like fruit pies, brownies, cupcakes and red velvet cake. The traditional apple pie is the best we've ever had (sorry, Mom).

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Brooklyn Slate Company coasters, four for $22
Brooklyn Slate Company coasters, four for $22
Photograph: Gabriela Herman

STORE: Brooklyn Slate Company

Shopping Red Hook

Parsons grad Kristy Hadeka and graphic designer Sean Tice started selling their countertop slate creations at the Brooklyn Flea (brooklynflea.com) in 2009, and the brand has since been sold in more than 1,000 stores across the U.S. This 850-square-foot showroom and shop is Brooklyn Slate Company’s first permanent location, and features reclaimed-glass shelving and custom-built furniture. The namesake metamorphic rock is sourced from Hadeka’s third-generation family quarry in upstate New York and then ground, sanded and shaped by her brother and father. You’ll find the entire collection, including coasters (four for $22), place mats (two for $39, four for $70) and signature cheese boards ($26–$44) that come with a soapstone pencil so you can distinguish your Brie from your blue. Also nab grub, such as jars of Sqirl jam ($14) and Castleton crackers ($7). Add a wooden knife ($12) carved from maple in Vermont and a jar of Bee Raw honey ($9) to complete your spread.

Sunny's, bars
Sunny's, bars
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

BAR: Sunny’s

Bars Dive bars Red Hook

This unassuming wharfside tavern has been passed down in the Balzano family since 1890. On weekends, the bar buzzes with middle-aged and new-generation bohemians (the latter distinguished by their PBR cans), and the odd salty dog (canines, not sailors). Despite the nautical feel, you’re more likely to hear bossa nova or bluegrass than sea chanties warbling from the speakers.

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The Bell House, music venues
The Bell House, music venues
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

MUSIC VENUE: The Bell House

Music Music venues Gowanus

For night owls who equate clubs on desolate streets with hipness, the Bell House has your number. But this Gowanus bar and music venue is worth the bleak trek. The sprawling spot’s two bars—one nestled in an ornate front room, the other in the rear performance space—provide plenty of drinking options. Skip toxic cocktails in favor of one of 12 beers on tap—from Anchor Steam to Smuttynose—or a taste of more than 20 bourbons. A can’t-miss drinking destination the Bell House is not. But if a band draws you in, stick to a Booker’s and you’ll do fine.

The runners-up

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The full list of winners by category

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